Everyone Who Calls on the Name of the LORD will be Saved (sermon text version)

Last week we saw that one of the ways people try to diminish the Gospel and discredit the works of God would be to ridicule it.  Today, I wanted to look at the speech Peter gives in response so we can see a really good outline for how to present the Gospel by addressing the question

Who will be saved?”

It’s a question people ask even today.  There are plenty of ideas swirling around out there. 

  • For some, they think they can earn their way to heaven by doing good things for other people.  Any things we did wrong beyond what we did right, weighed out on a scale, we pay for in purgatory.  (If so, I’d ask, why then did Jesus die?)
  • forsakenFor some, they think they have their ticket to heaven because of Jesus but their sins never really mattered.   They think you’re judgmental because who are you to say it’s sin?  God LOVES me just as I am. (Why then did Jesus die?)
  • For some, God saves everyone whether they want it or not.  Jesus paid the price.  We do what we want.  And we’re automatically IN.  (If so, why didn’t Jesus just cash in His chips right away and return for game-over…if we’re all saved anyway?)
  • For some, it’s dust to dust.  Life’s short.  Eat dessert first.  Every man for himself.  Live.  Laugh.  Love.  Sex.  Drugs.  Rock and Roll.  Don’t worry.  Be happy.  We have a never ending stream of self-help, horoscopes, and clichés.  Then we die and are nothing.  (Why then did Jesus die?)

It is this question (Who will be saved?) that is behind a favorite question of evangelists:

Where will you be one minute after you die?

Peter didn’t handle the situation that way or ask that question, even if it is a pretty good one used by people like Billy Graham.  Confronted with a really diverse group (including mockers, devout Jews, Jewish converts, curiosity seekers, and a crowd of onlookers), Peter springboards off their question (v 12) “What does this mean?” and the mockery and he launches into a full blown evangelistic altar call.

Peter counteracts the wine explanation and says, Acts 2:16 No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: 17 “‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.”

The Jews and the Jewish converts were eagerly awaiting the “last days” which is a term we know more loosely as the time between the Ascension and the Return of Christ.  To the Jews and Jewish converts it didn’t mean that because they didn’t believe in Jesus. They were not Jesus’ disciples.  To them, what were the “last days?”  It’s not like the last slice of pizza, or the last lap of speed skating.  It’s a period of time, an era with definable features.  It begins with God’s reversal of the fortunes of the chosen people, evidenced by the Holy Spirit being poured out on all people.  To the Jews, the last days would be the time period of deliverance from their enemies.  And who would deliver them?  Their Messiah.  And God, who had chosen them, would do it.

17 “‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.”  All people doesn’t really mean all.  Just like last doesn’t really mean the very last.  We have to take it in the same context that the Jews and Jewish converts would have immediately known!  If you go to the passage that we had read for us this morning in Joel (Joel 2:15-29), you’ll see God is talking about His people: All people are His people, the faithful people of Zion (what we see as the faithful people of God in all ages).   Our God doesn’t save “ALL” as in every human being (Judas included) just to make sure He fills the heavenly football stadium.  He saves those who love Him and who acknowledge He is God and we are sinners dependent on Him for deliverance.

To Peter’s hearers among the Jews, they would have known this important context of Joel:

Joel 2:15 Blow the trumpet in Zion, declare a holy fast, call a sacred assembly. 16 Gather the people, consecrate the assembly; bring together the elders, gather the children, those nursing at the breast. Let the bridegroom leave his room and the bride her chamber. 17 Let the priests, who minister before the LORD, weep between the temple porch and the altar.

(This is repentance—our owning that we haven’t lived lives that honor God.  We haven’t been holy or lived with kindness toward others.  Verse 17 continues…)

Let them say, ‘Spare your people, O LORD. Do not make your inheritance an object of scorn, a byword among the nations. Why should they say among the peoples, ‘Where is their God?”

(The Jews and Jewish converts would see this as the last days!  A petition for God to spare His people for His Name’s sake!  He is a covenant-keeping God.  He made promises to them!)  Context continues:

18 Then the LORD will be jealous for his land and take pity on his people. 19 The LORD will reply to them: ‘I am sending you grain, new wine and oil, enough to satisfy you fully; never again will I make you an object of scorn to the nations. 20 ‘I will drive the northern army far from you,

(The northern army at the time of Joel’s writing would have been Assyria and Babylon—what we know today as Lebanon, Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Yemen, and Jordan.  Interesting note for our times as it relates to the nation state of Israel, is it not?)

20 ‘I will drive the northern army far from you, pushing it into a parched and barren land, with its front columns going into the eastern sea and those in the rear into the western sea. And its stench will go up; its smell will rise.’ Surely he has done great things. 21 Be not afraid, O land; be glad and rejoice. Surely the LORD has done great things. … 25 ‘I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten– the great locust and the young locust, the other locusts and the locust swarm–my great army that I sent among you. 26 You will have plenty to eat, until you are full, and you will praise the name of the LORD your God, who has worked wonders for you; never again will my people be shamed. 27 Then you will know that I am in Israel, that I am the LORD your God, and that there is no other; never again will my people be shamed. 28 ‘And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.

Some of you may be thinking, Time out! 

The timing is all off! 

These nations are STILL warring against Israelis and against Christians! 

You’re right.  Prophecy is kind of that way.  Prophecy is kind of like pouring cups of water into a bucket until it’s full of water.  Prophecy can be filled one cup at a time until the final suffering, the final deliverance.  The Holy Spirit being poured out on believers in Jesus Christ is a major filling of the bucket, preparing us for that final deliverance of God’s people as the last cups of water finish to the brim.

God’s people throughout the ages have looked forward to a time of rest in the presence of God.  In the plan of God, suffering –like the locust plagues and enemies warring—draws us to the place of seeking His presence.  Desiring to be saved!  Crying out for deliverance!  Sometimes all you can do is cry out, “Help!”

Have you ever suffered?

Maybe someone you love has died or broken your heart by leaving you.  Maybe you had rebellious kids who took every opportunity to reject your parenting influence, went down a bad path, and maybe are still there.  Maybe you lost a job that you depended on to pay bills.  Maybe you were forced into early retirement and are living now on a fixed income.

In times of suffering, we can draw inward to embrace the pain…depend on ourselves, which leads to depression….OR we can look upward knowing that we have a God who loves us…which leads to hope…and which ends with deliverance.  Because God is faithful!

sinThat’s what Joel was telling us.

Suffering happens.

It’s a given.

We live in a broken world.

And NOT because God created it already broken! 

God created it perfect and beautiful and whole and holy!

We broke it.

And it stays broken until Jesus returns because of human sin!

But we can use it as an opportunity to draw near to our faithful God!  Turn from trying to save ourselves.  Turn from disagreeing with God and agree with Him–if He thinks sin is sin, it is!  (You know, it doesn’t matter if some circuit court or the Illinois or Wisconsin Supreme Court says something’s OK.  It doesn’t even matter if the US Supreme Court says it’s OK.  God is the Supreme Judge over all that and He’s not looking to take a vote or apt to change His mind because a group of men and women in black robes with a law degree think sin isn’t sin. God is the One who defines good and evil, right and wrong, sin and purity.)  Maybe part of our problem is that we don’t take God seriously.  We need to turn from believing there’s nothing up there, as if heaven’s lights are on but there’s nobody home.  Turn from believing you’re on your own and there’s nothing after this life.  Turn from all that and turn TO God.

Everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved!

So when Peter goes on to quote this passage from Joel, he makes a couple of notable changes (interpretive ones, if you will), reflecting his understanding that Jesus changed it all!  Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Peter reveals his new understanding of how Jesus’ life, death, Resurrection, and Ascension brought old truths to new light–the same truths that had previously been unclear.  I’d like to point these interpretive changes out because it’s how Peter leads to the altar call:

Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. (Peter reverses the order) 29 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days (Peter repeats and they will prophesy). 30 I will show wonders in the heavens (Peter adds, above) and (signs) on the earth (below), blood and fire and billows of smoke. 31 The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful (glorious) day of the LORD. 32 And everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved; /(Peter ends here, but Joel continues)/  for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be deliverance, as the LORD has said, among the survivors whom the LORD calls.

The speaking in tongues that people had heard—the many known languages—were a sign of God’s presence!  Cups of water being poured and poured and poured until the bucket will someday be full of God’s presence among His people and He comes to be with them, to judge their enemies, and to usher in eternity….when it’s filled to the brim!

Probably the most notable things that would have popped out to the Jewish hearers would be:

(1)  The pouring out of the Spirit is evidenced by the prophesying going on (verse 18).  They will prophesy—it’s the divine explanation for what they heard, not wine causing the speaking in languages!  What is prophesying but some people speaking God’s words to other people by His power?

(2)  The wonders of God are presently being declared but as cups of water, they haven’t reached the top of fulfillment.  Cups of water.  We haven’t seen the sun going out, or the moon turning blood red, or the fire and billows of smoke assigned to the final battle of God’s destroying all evil once and for all!  It’s defeated by Jesus already (the last days have begun), but someday, it will be thrown into the lake of fire.  That Last Day to beat all last days is known as Judgment Day.

(3)  Here’s a most notable interpretive change though:  the Jews and Jewish converts would have noted the word glorious…instead of the word dreadful (a Hebrew word also meaning fearful, terrible, terrifying, and awesome—not like a 21st century dude would say it—but like something that would cause immense fear).

 crossIf it’s that scary, why would Peter call it glorious

Because Jesus removed all the dread of death from those who call on His Name!

This is amazing stuff! 

Because Jesus died, it’s a great and glorious day for those who call on the Name of the LORD! 

There’s nothing to dread at all!  No fear! 

Jesus took the wrath we were expecting and died on the Cross so we wouldn’t have to experience it… if we trust in Him.

So Peter connects the “Everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved” with our salvation in Messiah, Jesus.  Saying, 22 “Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. 23 This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. 24 But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.

Peter will go on in his speech and we’ll look at that some more in coming weeks, but for now, consider what a life-changing, life-giving message Peter is stating as an answer to Who will be saved?

(1)   For those who feel like they have to burn off their own sins in purgatory, Jesus says NO!  He died so that your sins would be paid for…in full…once for all time!  His Spirit’s pouring is evidence that the work is done…and if you’ve trusted in Him, you’re saved!  The Holy Spirit is the guarantee of that inheritance, Scripture tells us!  He’s your guarantee!!!

(2)  For those who feel like Jesus loves them and sin doesn’t matter, God says, NO!  Jesus had to die because sin DOES matter and Jesus’ death for us was the greatest evidence ever presented that God does in fact LOVE us more than we will ever fully know.  John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

(3)    For those who say dust to dust then we are nothing and rely on the self-help section of the book store, social workers, horoscopes, and clichés…Jesus says NO!  You’re not nothing waiting to happen.  He can give you new life because there is eternity yet to come…and it’s so great that He had to die to make it possible for us to join Him there!

The bucket is being filled with water of baptism–baptism by the Holy Spirit, His coming into the hearts of more and more of those who say Yes to Jesus! Because His Name is powerful.  And His sacrifice both perfect and accepted by the Father.

But there’s a group I skipped over.  The group who thinks Jesus saves us whether we want it or not. 

God’s answer to that one is NO.  The one who is saved is the one who calls on the Name of the LORD! 

You see, sin matters.  Repentance matters.  Jesus matters and His death matters! 

If you have not trusted in His Name for your future, it’s not too late.  As long as you have breath in your body, you can trust our faithful God.  Agree with God about your sin and His holiness.  Everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved!

Let’s pray.

Categories Chapel Worship/News | Tags: | Posted on October 15, 2014

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  1. by LeAnn

    On November 26, 2014

    Hi Barbara – thanks for all of your amazing messages. I wish I could come to your church and be blessed by your word in person!
    I am always in turmoil over “being saved” – it seems too easy and I am racking my brain to try and lead family members to call on the Lord as their savior. Any time after the holidays to have a discussion? I would love it!
    Thanks and many blessings to you and your family! Thanking our Lord for you and your words and friendship!

  2. by seminarygal

    On November 26, 2014

    Oh, you’re welcome LeAnn! I love bringing God’s Word to people and reasoning our way through the Scriptures! I will send you an email to get together for catching up. Miss the weekly interactions with you at Condell, but I know God will continue to use you mightily wherever you serve Him. You have His grace in every breath and His love showing in your every action. Happy Thanksgiving!

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